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God I Hate…
God, I hate getting up this early. But I only got three months left; then I’ll never have to get up early again. Three more months and this time I graduate. Dads doing pretty good on the railroad job now. Hasn’t been laid off for a couple of years now. David is doing good in the Navy, and my future at Taco Bell is almost a guarantee. Don’t know why this diploma shit is so important to everyone, I’m making 165.00 a week now and I’m only 18! That’s better than some factories and I don’t work as hard as they do. If I wasn’t going to this dumbass high school everyday; I’ll bet I could make 200 or even 225 dollars a week. They’d let me work. I’m the best employee they got. Someday I’ll own Taco Bell.
“Okay! Okay! I’m up damn it!” I yell at Mom as I stare at the clock. Jesus! She didn’t graduate, and she did okay. If she only knew how badly I hated that place! Nothing was the same as it was when I was a kid. Teachers taught for the money. They don’t give a damn about us at all. Suddenly all the guys I’d grown up with were “black”. That means they can’t be seen hanging with me because I’m now “white bread”. Don’t remember it bothering them when I’d spend the night at their house or they’d stay over at mine. Now I’m part of the race that owned and sold them. Go figure. I never owned a slave. Near as I could tell, no one in my families past had ever owned one either. Oh well, timed to get ready. School starts in 30 minutes. Mom is already to take me. I think she gets off pissing me off. Was I supposed to do some homework for today? Oh well, tough shit. They’ll get it when I give it to them. Now where are my jeans?
God its cold! I hate mornings. I hate school. I hate the teachers. I hate most of the students. Why did I ever go back? Mom is taking me to school in her bathrobe again! Now ain’t that a cool look! Dingy pink nylon. Oh God! She even has the fuzzy pink slipper on! Oh this is a lovely sight. Pulling up to Marion High in a 1972 Ford station wagon driven by a crazy woman dressed in a nightgown and slippers! And pink, raggedy ones at that! Dad could get a better car now; but will he?
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Marion is such a hellhole! God I hate it! There’s nothing to do here. They got rid of Custer’s Last Stand and are building a Sambos there now. Like anyone will want breakfast at two o clock in the morning! What a waste. Now they are talking about a Mall where Grants’ used to be. What a waste of space. Emily’s is selling out to Duffs. And the Smorgasbord is now the FBI. “Hey Mom, don’t forget to stop at Bobs so I can get some smokes.” “You need a pack too?” “I got em.” “You know, if they keep raising the damn things, everyone will have to quit.” “I won’t buy em if they go over a .85 cent a pack. They just aint worth it.” Smoking is the only thing they can’t scare me into stopping.
How come when you really like something, they tell you it’s bad for you? Cars have to run this new “unleaded” shit in them now. Motors need lead to work right. There saying chicken and pork and hotdogs are bad for you now too. Chicken don’t matter to me anyway. Since that summer at Aunt Wanda’s, I haven’t eaten chicken since then. Thank God you still have beef and cheese you can eat. Otherwise we’d all have to become vegetarians! And God knows I hate vegetables; so I’d probably die!
Damn! We’re almost there. She just passed Kmart. Four hours. That’s all you got Dennis. Four friggin hours. I wish some of these places, like Burger King, would open earlier. Then I could get lunch for breakfast. That would be so bad! “Hey Mom, Let me out across from the school, okay? That way, since I have a few minutes, I can finish my Cigarette before I go in Thanks.” God I hate this place. Why is always so damn cold in the morning. When I become rich in a few years, I’m going to buy a house in Arizona. That way I don’t care how damn cold it gets here, I’ll be warm. I’ll live right by the desert and find fossils and geodes and antiques and stuff and run a Taco Bell too. I’ll be in heaven! Marion will probably be a ghost town by then, anyway. “This is cool Mom. See ya at 11:00.”
Did anyone see me get out of that piece of shit? No? Good. I still got about 10 minutes till I got to be in class. As long as I stand over here and smoke, no one can say crap. They can’t say anything anyway, I’m 18. I’m an adult. I’m old enough to vote; Old enough to drink in Ohio and old enough to die for my Country. Besides, I buy my own. I have for a few years now. Damn. Three more months of this shit! Then smooth sailing! Hey, isn’t that Mr. Ken sitting in his car? Hah! He’s smoking his pipe on school grounds!
How about that? God I hate him! Just because he doesn’t understand my interpretation of Art, he almost flunked me last year. He said “Paint a still life from your heart”, and I did. Everybody liked it, except him. Granted a realistic heart in the center of a black canvas with a knife and flowers pushed through it, may not be for everyone, but I painted what I felt. It was good. The asshole gave the “pretty” pictures good scores and damn near flunked me! I’ve hated him every since then. I think him and Mr. Butler have tried there damnedest to get me to drop out. Shit! He sees’ me! Just wave at him, Dennis. He can’t do shit. You’re off school grounds.
Damn it! He’s walking this way. Just finish your cigarette Dennis. Then go to class. “Hey Mr. Ken! How Ya Doing?” “I’ll get to class, just as soon as I finish my cigarette!” “Just lit it a minute ago.” You got nerve buddy! Setting over there in your little Fiat smoking on school grounds! You need to take your little blue tweed covered ass away from me and leave me alone jerk. What the hell do you think you’re doing? You can’t come across the street. This isn’t school grounds! “I told you sir, I’d put it out when I’m done. I’m not on school grounds and you can’t make me put it out!” “You’re going to tell my Mom? Go right ahead. She will tell you I’m 18 and buy my own. She doesn’t care.”
“Did you just take that out of my mouth?” “Who the hell do you think you are?” “You can’t destroy my personal Property!” I’ll just light another one and show him just who he’s pissing with. As I look into his brown eyes, I see anger at my rebellioness. He quickly turns and grabs me by my shirt on the shoulder. “Get your fucking hands off of me or I swear I’ll knock your ass out cold!” “Don’t you ever touch me, asshole!” “I’m an adult, and that’s assault!” He’s sending me to the Deans office? BFD! Once I explain what he did, it’ll be his ass on the line, not mine. After all, I’m an adult too.
God I hate this school. Now I’m late for first period. Oh well the Dean will give me an excused pass. After all Mr. Ken provoked this whole thing. If he’d just left me alone, instead of trying to play Daddy, I would be in class right now. Shit. The Dean is that new Black guy who used to be a cop someplace. Oh well. Grandpa always said “The truth isn’t just your best defense; it’s your only defense. The truth always wins out.” Damn! This guy is not even looking up at me. What did he just say? Three days or three whacks? “Don’t you even want to hear my side?” No? I’ll be God damned. “If I take the three days, I will have to take this semester over. And I’ll be damned if another adult is going to put a board to my ass!” “Go ahead and call my Mom. Dickhead.” God listen to the line of shit he’s telling her! Great, now she wants to talk to me! “I’m fine Mom” After explaining what happened; in great detail, she now wants to talk to “the Dean”. Or should I have said yell at him? All he can seem to get out is “no Mrs. Johnson” or “but I”, when he hands the phone to me again. “No Mom, it wouldn’t matter now anyway. First period is unexcused and It makes my third one this semester.” “No, he’s says I’ll have to retake the class to get my diploma. After I told him about work, he said I had to choose which was more important to me; work or school.” “He said I could take night school and get my credit, but I’d have to quit my job.” “Thanks Mom, see you in a bit.” At that point, the Dean reaches in his drawer and retrieves his paddle. He asks me to close the door.
1. “I don’t know what the hell you’re planning on doing with that, but if it’s for anything other than killing flies, you can just put it away.” What did she say to me?” She said “Do what you feel is right. Your Dad and I back your decision one hundred percent. But if it were me, I’d tell them to stick it up their asses and leave. It’s your choice.” As I turned to leave the Deans office, he quips “See you next year”. To which I reply “Not next year or any year ever again.” His last words to me are “Yeah, right!”
I never set foot in Marion High School again until my own children attended it. In 1987, I went to the VA Hospital and took the GED blind, never opening or studying for it. When the results came back, I had hit the second highest score ever in the state of Indiana for the GED at that time. They confirmed what my parents already knew. I retained virtually everything I ever read. Since then, I’ve gone on to many things and accomplished most everything I’ve set out to do. But I often wonder, how different my life would have been if it had been:”God I Love this.” Instead of “God I hate this.” Would I have joined the Navy? Would I have become a certified Chef? Would I have met my wife? Would I be telling this to a complete stranger? I guess I’ll never know. But looking back, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.